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5 Tips for Planning an Outdoor Easter Gathering

GazeboA green, grassy yard spotted with colorful eggs within the perimeter of a classic cedar fence, beneath a bright blue sky – this is the Easter fantasy of adults and children alike. The reality is, if you live in the Northwest, you cannot count on seeing a dry, blue sky on Easter Sunday.

By anticipating sun and preparing for rain, however, you can be ready to take advantage of any nice weather that might come your way. Following are five tips for preparing your yard for an outdoor Easter party, rain or shine.

1. Prepare your deck.

The best Easter gatherings are those that take place outside. Provided the weather cooperates, that means your deck will be the focal point of the festivities. After a long winter, your wood or PVC decking is bound to require some sprucing up.

If you have a wood deck, begin by inspecting your deck for any safety hazards, such as instability, rotting boards or popped nails that need to be pounded back in. If you plan on entertaining outdoors even if it’s rainy, check your deck for any areas that become overly slippery when wet – particularly deck boards with mold or mildew growth. If you have PVC decking, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about slippage, as the wood-grain texture helps provide traction.

Next, give your deck a thorough cleaning. Use a putty knife to remove any debris that has become lodged between boards. If you own PVC decking, cleaning can be as simple as hosing off the winter dirt, and perhaps spot cleaning with a mild household cleaner. If you have a wood deck, you may also want to follow up with a deck brightener to remove tannin stains from fallen leaves.

2. Tidy up the yard.

Perform some early spring yard maintenance, such as pruning and clearing away dead foliage. Check your cedar fence for any unsightly damage. If you haven’t had time to plant any bulbs, you can buy some silk daffodils or other spring flowers to stick into your empty beds and provide a splash of color in the yard.

3. Provide shelter in case it rains.

Easter weather is unpredictable enough that you will want to have a contingency plan in case it rains. One easy way to provide shelter on your deck or patio (if your time and budget allows) is to install an aluminum patio cover. Aluminum covers are low maintenance, easy to install and have a long life span. You can also install additional aluminum covers in other areas of your yard, such as over picnic table, hot tub or bench. If you do have an additional covered space with a picnic table, this is the perfect location for kids to decorate Easter eggs or assemble Easter crafts.

As an alternative, you can put up a temporary canopy over your deck, or be prepared to bring the festivities indoors.

4. Decorate with eggs.

Take advantage of the temporary price drop in eggs and use them as part of your décor.  Color a batch of raw eggs and hollow them out by poking a hole in each end and blowing out the contents. Glue yarn or ribbon to the tops, and hang them from the branches of trees, along a cedar fence, between the rails of your wood or PVC decking, or even from your canopy or aluminum cover.

You can also transform hollowed-out eggs into bud vases, table centerpieces, placeholders, a garland or an Easter wreath. You can even fill a hollowed egg with wax and a wick to create a clever votive.

5. Set out a tasty spread.

Consider a spin on the traditional baked lamb or ham by firing up your grill. If you have an aluminum cover over your grill, there’s no reason you can’t barbeque while it rains. Accompany lamb or ham with assorted sauces, a frittata, focaccia, bread rolls, scalloped potatoes, fresh and roasted vegetables, rice or quinoa.

Use bright or festive tablecloths for your tables. If you eat outside, anchor the corners of the tablecloths with ribbons attached to a plastic Easter egg filled with jellybeans. For a centerpiece, cut off the long stems of tulips and arrange the flowers in a plastic-lined Easter basket filled with floral foam. Accompany the tulips with grass, baby’s breath, small daisies and Easter toys.

As with any large family gathering, it is a good idea to plan everything well in advance, especially if you need work completed in your yard. With proper planning, the only thing you will need to worry about is where to hold the Easter egg hunt if it rains.

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